Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Introducing: The VJM07 & C33

Testing has finally begun on the all new Formula 1 cars, and we're starting to see loads more wacky designs, and a few technical problems with most teams (to be explained in a full test review). 

Force India were actually the first team to release a picture of a 2014 Formula 1 car, although to the dismay of many experts, they hid their nose out of sight. Crude move. Sauber don't believe in a day of rest and released their car on the 26th of January.

I am reviewing both of these cars and two more (Red Bull's RB10 & Williams' FW36) together because 1) I'm not very good with the specs of cars and 2) they carry some similar design features. Some cars I feel deserve to be ridiculed on their own (as you'll find in my Toro Rosso review).


This image was the very first 2014 car. I have to say this is one of my favourite livery's. For the past few seasons, the Force India's looked very similar and I suppose that's to be expected naming a team after a country, but the black really suits the car.

I like the effort they went to to change it up, I think it's a little disrespectful to the paradigm shift when teams like Red Bull, Mercedes, Lotus do very little to their livery's whenever such a big rule change is enforced.

Nico Hulkenberg returns after being snubbed for the Lotus position (rightfully so) and he is joined by McLaren reject Sergio Perez. Prior to this season I would have considered myself a Force India supporter, given that they used to be Irish-owned. But I was a bigger Paul di Resta fan, and I don't think his situation was handled very well.

Regardless, Hulkenberg and Perez are two very talented and possible world champions should the ever get the chance. Hopefully with a big engine shakeup they might get the opportunity they've both been waiting for.

After finally seeing the nose, it was no surprise that they tried hiding it. The VJM07 has a lovely colour but it is really disgusting to look at. Ultimately, this could prove to be a big advantage but right now I want to rip my eyes out. And it only gets worse from here.


Sauber took a bold step for a team in financial difficulty in having a launch outside of Jerez, albeit a low key online deal like Lotus. Adrian Sutil leaves Silverstone for the first time in his career and joins the returning Esteban Gutierrez who managed to finish his season without killing anyone.

 As I mentioned before, I know little about the specs of a car just by looking at it, but what I simply love seeing are the various colours of an F1 car, and as I found last years Sauber boring, I find it a little hard to swallow that they couldn't manage to change the awfully dull grey.

Talking about things that's hard to swallow (crude penis joke <insert apology here>) the nose resembles that of the McLaren. I do like the little dashes of red and white, and the Sauber logo is a nice touch.

Sauber have picked two drivers that were the best of a bad situation really. If this was the chance to make the leap forward, signing a driver like di Resta or Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne would have been a better choice. I know Sutil has been round the circuit a few times, but I feel as though they could have done more. 


These two teams have been in the sport for quite some time now with limited success, Sauber may have lost momentum when BMW quit the sport but now that everyone is even, they really are racing in no-excuse-situations now. It's time to make the leap forward, and getting on those podiums are the way to do it. 

Looks aren't everything, but these cars certainly aren't stunners.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Lotus In Trouble & Introducing: The E22

Lotus today announced that Eric Bouiller will no longer be with the team, and that Gerard Lopez will be taking over.

So let's get this straight.The only man who could stop the sinking ship, has been let go... Whilst the man who caused the ship to sink is taking complete control. Wow... Just wow.

I'm huge Lotus fan and not just because Kimi Raikkonen drove for them for two years, I was a fan of Renault before with Fernando Alonso, so naturally I just support the team.

The funding fiasco and the absolute gall not to pay Kimi Raikkonen last year really annoyed me but I figured every team hits hard times, and Kimi isn't ever going to be short of cash (not that it matters, it is the principal after all).

They then announced that they wouldn't be attending Jerez, but assured us that other teams wouldn't be either. Yet even the poorest teams managed to book their place. So now Lotus look weak and broke.

I unlike many other fans saw the sense of hiring Pastor Maldonado. Give him a half decent car whilst he brings in the cash. It was and still is a better idea than bringing in Nico Hulkenberg who would just have thrown the toys out of his pram because he wasn't getting his own way. 

However letting/making Boullier go is absolutely crazy. Most likely he will be destined for McLaren if you believe the hype. It could also spell the end for Romain Grosjean who is managed by Boullier.

Introducing: The E22

On a lighter note, along with McLaren today, Lotus tweeted an angled picture of their car, the E22. I thought it was a little bit childish to release a photo at the same time as McLaren had their's, but I digress:

Bar the streaks on the monocoque and the introduction of Maldonado's PDVSA sponsors (and others), little to nothing has changed. The stupid red is still present however, the first name of the driver is still atop of the car which I think is a really nice touch.

If you have seen the McLaren or the computer generated version of the Williams car, you'd know that the nose is just as horrific as the experts predicted. Yet Lotus have managed to alter the penis design and have adapted a two pronged/tusk style nose.

I'm no expert so I don't know the benefits and disadvantages of them both but aesthetically, it's a lot more pleasing than the anteater. The E22 is definitely still sexy... And it knows it.

Introducing: The MP4-29

For Formula One fans, car launches are like Christmas all over again, although this year’s launches are a complete contrast to the previous set, with only three teams having an official launch before the first test in Jerez (28-31 January).

Force India released a side shot of their challenger with a brand new livery but the aspect that everyone was looking forward too was hidden. Then Williams dropped the bomb with a computer generated release, and I dare say every F1 fan understood the horrors ahead of them.

Today, McLaren unveiled their new car online. Gone are the days of big flashy ceremonies, without sponsor Vodafone to pay for them now, a low key slide show and 360 degree model was put up on the McLaren website.

I’ll get to the nose at the end, first of all; I love the colour scheme. I’ve never been a big fan of all the red McLaren used to have, last year I called for them to bring out a plainer car and it was worth the wait.

It definitely reminds you of the days where Mika Hakkinen and more recently Kimi Raikkonen drove an all silver car. The McLaren logo is still present on top of the side pods and I still think that’s a really important feature.

The MP4-29 has familiar feautres such as a pull rod suspension scheme and McLaren designed steering and electronic equipment. By now we’re all aware of the regulation changes and McLaren are running the Mercedes-Benz PU106A Hybrid, 6 cylinder 1.6 litre engine. The car comes to a total of 145kg and runs the brand new ERS (Electronic Revcovery System) boost, although hopefully someone comes up with  fancy new name for it. A full list of specifications can be found on the McLaren website.

Now for the elephant in the room. Two years ago when the stepped nose system came in, McLaren were the only team not to feature the awful nose and we all loved them for it. Last year they did but it came complete with a vanity panel. For 2014, I guess the geniuses at the McLaren Technology Centre could find no way around the new regulations and instead, they left us with this:

I know it’s not their fault, but look at it. Seriously. I genuinely think it needs a great big censor bar over it. No way should it be shown before the watershed. The back wing remains quite narrow but they’ve shortened the width of the front wing. Before, it used to exceed the width of the chassis and tyres but in the pictures it’s short of the Pirelli tyres.

Me personally, I like the car. I think we’re all going to have to get over the noses, there’s no chance of a vanity cover up, and the regulations aren’t going to change soon. McLaren took a bold step by being the first team to have an official launch with multiple angles of their car, and I love the silver and black livery, it compliments each other so very well. Hopefully it can improve dramatically upon 2013’s form, and emulate the successes of 2012 with less reliability issues, although with a brand new power train that may be asking too much.

Also, I think it's a testament to how strong Jenson Button is, showing up just after burying his father. Good luck this season Jenson!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Dennis The Menace Takes Over McLaren

Having stepped down in 2009 after an illustrious career at the helm of McLaren as team principle, Ron Dennis has played a shadow role behind the scenes, and as breaking news hits; he has staged what the BBC are calling an "international coup" to become the new chief executive officer.

Where'd the smiles go?
It's no secret that him and current team principle Martin Whitmarsh haven't always gotten along, and with the 2013 season delivering a battering to Whitmarsh's reputation, many foresaw this coming.

Where did it all go wrong?
Personally, I quite like Whitmarsh. I think the man around him are quite worthless, and the men with any talent have already got up and left. He also had a terrible car package to deal with and a less than co-operative driver line up in lacklustre Jenson Button and disastrous Sergio Perez.

I'm not one to point fingers, but was it not Ron Dennis who let Adrian Newey go to Red Bull? If I had a hen laying golden eggs I'd be making sure it was comfortable and content.

"Yes Martin there's the **** I give."
It's unclear whether or not Whitmarsh's job is on the line, although popular opinion seems to agree. Something had to change but I would have started with the drivers first, although maybe a good shake-up at the top is exactly what's needed.

Double Trouble

As we know by now, one of the more shocking regulation changes for 2014 was to offer double points to the top 10 finishers of the very last Grand Prix of the year.

The idea is that the motivation will increase competition, and make the championship fight extend longer, unlike the snoozefest's of 2011 and 2013 (yawn). 

There are conflicting beliefs within the paddock that the points system is here to stay, Ferrari's Luca Di Montezemolo says that it's only a temporary folly whereas Lotus and Eric Boullier are certain it's a permanent arrangement. 

It's only one more desperate attempt to make Formula 1 look interesting, when in actual fact it's making the sport look like an absolute joke. Imagine making tries in rugby worth double in the last ten minutes of a match, it's complete crazy.

Eddie Irvine was spot on when he said the sport is completely lost.What gripes me the most is that Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA have basically said that Abu Dhabi, and the Yas Marina circuit is worth more than Silverstone, Monza, Monte Carlo and Spa. Why should emphasis be placed on a below par circuit that has existed for all of 5 minutes, above REAL circuits?

Oh wow, you light up, cause that's what the fans want...

One thing is always for sure; leave it to Red Bell and Sebastian Vettel to shy away from the fact that this only helps them. 

I'm not saying they had any involvement with the decision making, that would be stupid-thinking. What I am saying is that Vettel coming out and calling it "absurd," and Christian Horner criticising the FIA is rather cheap considering they are the only ones who truly benefit.

Red Bull perform far better in the second half in a season. Asia is practically Vettel's playground, you know he's just going to pull maximum points every time. And with 3 wins in 5 races at Yas Marina, it's safe to say it's a Vettel track. What if Red Bull scrape by the whole season, get lucky (because we know it happens) at Abu Dhabi and steal it away undeservedly?! It says to the teams just give it your 100% at the last race of the season, it's worth the real points.

This is all assuming the order remains the same with the new engines however, maybe the change is so big that double points might actually prove to be a great thing in the sport. Right now, it makes it look weak.

It seems to me like this is a quick fix to a really terminal problem with Formula 1. Along with the introduction of the Vettel Trophy (trophy for most pole positions), these are just really bad decisions. If the FIA wants to emulate the success of other motor racing series', introduce interesting scenarios like reversed grids, or ballasts like in the BTCC, not something that belittles 18 races of hard work.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Quick 2014 Update

Hey guys, hope you all had a good holiday season and a happy new year.

Just posting a quick message here to let you know that I am in the process of exams at university, but those will be over soon and I will be setting aside a certain amount of time every week to write here, and on the Let's Talk F1 website.

I've missed writing but education comes first and to be quite honest, university has been so brilliant and there was a million and one different things exciting than Formula 1 this year.

What To Expect

Hopefully later this week I'll do an extremely belated 2013 award post. Shouldn't be too difficult to detail...

A quick look at the newbies of F1. Well, so far there is only two but I'm sure they're both worth a look at!

So far I am in charge of reviewing McLaren's, Caterham's and Force India's car launches for Let's Talk F1. Although expect them to be on the 'lite' side of things. Teams have just gone all out on brand new power train's and engine packages, I'm sure having expensive unveiling's is the last thing on their minds. I will be covering all the teams on here so make sure you check both sites regularly.

Let's Talk F1 will have a brand new look soon enough and with it a new team and a new agenda to bringing you the best in personal opinion and latest news in Formula 1. If you haven't already, make sure you add the page to your favourites and follow us on Twitter.

I'd like to evaluate the current financial state of Lotus, and why I would pick Pastor Maldonado over Nico Hulkenberg any day of the week.

I hope to be more active in 2014, I am also hoping for a more exiting F1 season too, I've always been really heavy into my rallying and motorbikes, and even the 6 hour races of the WEC were more enjoyable than the majority of the F1 races last year. 2014 has a lot to live up too!

Friday, 3 January 2014

My Thoughts On Michael Schumacher

No matter how involved with Formula 1 or sport in general for that matter, I'm sure I don't need to tell you of the awful events that occurred on 29/12/13.

Michael Schumacher's accident and current state has shocked and moved every single motor sport fan in the world. If you're as big a Schumacher fan as I am, the disbelief has just about wore off, and the enormity of the situation is only just becoming clear.

Schumi means quite a lot to me. My earliest memories of anything really are of watching Schumacher and Eddie Irvine racing for Ferrari. I supported Irvine for the obvious reason that he is from the same country as myself, but Michael's skill and talent really made me fall in love with his driving.

It's hard hearing your idol being in such a position that he is currently in. It sounds completely mad being attached to someone who doesn't even know I exist (there's even a psychological term for it called being crazy), but I still remember my first words at Silverstone 2012 which were:

"Holy sh*t, that's THE Michael Schumacher."

It doesn't matter to me that the 2010-2012 Schumacher era was nowhere near the dominant force that he was. We were just truly blessed to see such a true driving force behind the wheel of a Formula 1 racing car.

Things are looking quite bleak at the moment. Medical terms like "coma" and "haematoma" are certainly not what anyone wants to hear. I honestly believe that any other human being would have been dead by now. But Michael Schumacher was never a normal human being. If there's one man who can pull through this, it's the 7 times world champion.

All our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Schumacher, and I especially love the Ferrari vigil that was held today. It was carried out in such a tasteful and respectful manner. If there's one more reason for Michael to pull through this, it's so that he can see all the nice things that everyone is saying about him. 

Good luck Michael, get well soon!